Are You Making These Silly Menu Mistakes?

Every bar has a menu but not every bar uses the menu as the real selling tool that it is.

A bar menu should not be an afterthought or something that should be put together over a coffee the week before opening. It takes time, decision and analysis to make the most of your menu but the results of such effort can be hugely rewarding. It’s also not something that you should be leaving to a designer to layout.

The biggest menu mistake that I notice? Poor layout and design.

A good menu design can improve sales an average of 2 to 10 percent, according to restaurant consultants interviewed by Restaurants US. That means that for a bar turning over 300,000 a year, the opportunity to earn an extra 6,000-30,000 a year is either being won or lost based on the menu alone. Worth paying attention to? I think so.

So let’s look at some of the biggest design and layout mistakes:

  1. Not matching the menu colors with the bar theme colors. An Italian Restaurant might make use of red, white and green on their menu, but this might not suit a French fine dining restaurant. Don’t overdo it on colours and fonts so that your customers are distracted, however make sure your menu is appealing enough to be read thoroughly.
  2. Placing the highest profit margin items in the wrong places.This should probably be number 1 in my list. There are different “sweet spots” on a menu where a customer’s eyes are naturally drawn depending on the layout of the menu. On a twofold menu, this spot is on the right hand page a few lines from the top. On a trifold menu, it is in the centre page, a few lines from the top. Putting low margin items here directly affects your margins. The top grossing bars & restaurants know this and carefully plan what items they allow into these prime spots.
  3. Not grouping products together. The best menus have distinct sections that help guide a customer from course to course, making it easier for them to choose more and spend more. Clearly identify what the appetizers are, the main courses are and the desserts.
  4. Not offering something more than the competitor but charging more. What is your bar or restaurant’s unique selling proposition? Are the fries handcut, are the vegetables grown onsite? Whatever it is, you need to sing about it to justify your prices if they are higher than your competitors. Customers are clever and know the market prices of most items so sell to your strengths.

Just my 2 cents worth. Any thoughts?

5 thoughts on “Are You Making These Silly Menu Mistakes?

  1. Bravo Barry!
    These are smart advices, and I agree with you, the priority is your number 2. I came across this article through Linkedin (the “All food, … QSR Professionals” but I just subscribed to your blog. If by any chance you read French, feel free to visit mine (the web site, however is both in French and in English).
    Kind regards

  2. Very Informative! You hit the nail on the head. Food and beverages sold from the bar and lounge area is iceing one the cake and useually wiill promote eating in the dining room on another occation.

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